I believe that every true believer of Christ will ask the question at some point in their walk, “Who did Christ die for?” “Did He die for me, for everyone or for just a few people?” It’s a fair question and one that needs to be answered for any person who truly want’s to follow Christ. Growing up in the church, I’ve had John 3:16 memorized since I was 5 years old. It may be a verse that is repeated over and over again, within the Christian realm of believers, but it is truly essential for the understanding of Christianity, Christ, the cross and God Himself. John 3:16 says,“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” Another verse 2 Corinthians 5:15 says, “And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.” Romans 5:18, “So, then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.” These three verses clearly state that Christ’s death on the cross was for all who believe in Him. Some try to argue that Christ sacrifice was only for an “appointed” few. There are many verses/arguments that I could bring up to argue against predestination, but I think John 3:16 says it the best, “…whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” It is clear that this verse is saying that ALL have the choice to believe and not perish.
I believe that Christ died for every single person on this planet, no matter what their heart looks like, but I also believe that the repercussions of the cross, are and will not be applied to every single person on this planet. Let me explain, all three above verses clearly state that Christ died for all people, but that’s only half of the story. Yes, Christ’s death was a gift for all people, but not all people will choose to accept the gift. John 1:29, 1 John 2:2 and 1 John 4:14 all prove that Christ died for all of the world. John 3:16 says that belief is the key to eternal life and verses 17 and 18 continue on to say, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” John 3:16-18 isn’t the only verse that proves that salvation is a choice; Romans 10:9-10 and Mark 16:15-16 also clearly show that salvation/ the gift/ the repercussions are a choice and not all will accept that gift.
So, if Christ died for everyone, then why do we have to repent? The answer to this question I already touched on in my last point, but let me dig in a little deeper. Romans 10:10 says,” For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” You can not have salvation without confession of your sins/repentance. Luke 13:3 says, “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” The message has always been the same from the beginning, repent and gain a new heart molded after the heart of Christ (Ezekiel 18:30-31).
Next question, “What is the importance of Christ dying on the cross?” Cgg.org says this, “In Jesus’ day, crucifixion was considered so gruesome that it was reserved for slaves and the worst criminals or enemies of the state.” So, why did Jesus Christ, the king of kings, the perfect/blameless one have to die a slave’s death? He did it for me, He did it for you. Every one of us deserves to die a criminal’s death, because of the sins we have committed. If Christ was to be a substitution for us, then He had to endure what we deserve; otherwise, it would not have been a perfect substitution. Romans 9 is an eye opening chapter when it comes to the importance of Christ’s death. Verse 22 says, “Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” This verse explains that there had to be blood shed in order for the sacrifice to mean anything. From the beginning with Moses, it was put into truth that a sacrifice with blood shed was necessary in order for forgiveness. Romans 9:27-28 says, “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” Crucifixion was a shameful and excruciating process, much like our sin, “Sin is shameful,” sin is painful. Christ’s death and sacrifice was needed and the shedding of blood was the only means of bringing the sacrifice to it’s full potential and power.
My final topic for this post is on the different atonement theories. The atonement theories answer the question, “What part of Jesus’ life was most important in redeeming humanity?” The five theories are:
Moral Influence- This theory says that Jesus’ life and teaching is what redeemed humanity.
Ransom Theory- This theory says that Christ’s triumph over death is what redeemed humanity.
Christus Victor- This theory says that Christ becoming a human is what redeemed humanity.
Penal Substitution, Satisfaction and Governmental- These theories say that Christ’s crucifixion is what redeemed humanity.
I side with the governmental theory. The governmental theory believes that Christ’s death was what redeemed us from humanity. Although penal substitution, satisfaction and governmental are very similar, governmental deviates from the other two by saying that Christ’s death was a propitiation for our sin, and although it was a very real punishment, Christ did not receive the exact punishment for our sin. I found these verses to be beneficial in making my decision: Romans 3:24-26, Romans 5:12-21.